I’ve long been a listener of dance music, in particular the kind of electronic music that saturated the dance floors of the 1990s. At the time, I would obsessively listen to radio shows from Colin Dale and Colin Faver on Kiss FM in London, where they championed underground music. Always inspired by the wildly inventive music they played, I would spend hours in obscure record shops, searching out gems that I had written down to check out in my pocket notebook. Indeed, back in 1991, I vividly remember picking up a white label of Analog Bubblebath Vol.2 by a fresh young artist called Aphex Twin in a tiny record store in Camden Town, having heard it on the radio the night before.
And on every Wednesday night for several years, I would cycle over to the SW1 Club in Victoria with a group of fellow enthusiastic pals, so we could attend Knowledge and dance until the early hours. The next morning was often a struggle, as on a Thursday I would work an eleven-hour shift in my then job, from 09.00 to 20.00, but the joy and exhilaration of the night before ensured that I could stay wide awake.
Knowledge was an important nexus point for dance floor music, connecting the Detroit scene with British industrial, Brooklyn Techno with Belgian beats. It was there that I saw London debut live performances from Moby, Aphex Twin and countless others over the years.
And so, it seemed perfectly natural at some point that I might actually release dance music of my own at some point. Rather playfully, I simply added ‘funk’ to my artist name, and thus Scannerfunk was born. In 1999 I released Wave of Light by Wave of Light on my own label Sulphur (UK) / Sulfur (USA) and Boudisque in The Netherlands. I knew it would divide and confuse people at the time, but listening back to this today, I’m still rather proud of it.
It was a record for both horizontal and vertical listening. Some called it ‘intelligent trance,’ but actually it was so far from that genre. I combined my love for Philip Glass and Steve Reich with contemporary electronica. I tried to make it less about the brain and more about the hips. Having said that, my arty playfulness was there from the start. ‘I am Calm’ opens with an American voice announcing ‘listen to my voice’ which was actually taken from a production I was working on about the work of American poet Sylvia Plath.
Voices would continue to make an appearance throughout the album, whether repeating ‘automatic’ over a stripped back beat, or as tiny ghosts in the background of tracks. In some sense they were reminders that a human being was present behind this electronic production.
Interestingly, a little later I was approached by a commercial company, Digital Vision, to create library music as part of a new series they were initiating. For those who aren’t familiar with this idea of library music, it’s actually quite unique. Stock music, or photographs or videos, is created by sessions musicians and/or composers, in a variety of styles and genres, and released directly to commercial enterprises like TV, radio and film. With the example of Digital Vision, a client would purchase this exclusive music for £75 and not need to pay anything more. They could soundtrack their corporate videos or fashion show, and feel reassured that there would be no hidden licensing fees to be paid later on. As the artist you would receive a percentage of these sales.
At the same time, this music would rarely be heard by anyone beyond the buyer’s market. Curiously,vinyl crate diggers over the years have discovered all manner of library music gems in dusty record stores of markets and sampled them to death, often created by influential artists working under pseudonyms. My own album was commissioned as ‘forward looking, futuristic techno.’ At heart, it meant I produced 15 techno oriented tracks, plus an additional 15 x 60 sec versions and 15 x 30 sec versions.
I cheekily titled it Technorama and set about producing these 15 pieces. I was conscious that it needed to be as accessible as possible, and like many library albums quite unsubtly nodded towards other artists of this genre. I mean, no prizes as to ‘Daft’ was inspired by! According to account statements over the years the music appeared in insurance videos, a popular TV car show and even a series of erotic yoga videos. Most unfortunately, I have never seen any of these productions. Then again, perhaps I don’t want to!
So, now some twenty years later, I’ve made the music available again. I’ve had a fair few requests over the years regarding this material, so it can now be heard on Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, and all the fancy digital listening places. And it will make an appearance on Bandcamp one day soon too.
I have a rather large collection of dancefloor oriented music from the period that might possibly make an appearance one day, but no-one is in any hurry for it, so enjoy these nostalgic moments for the time-being. Now, put your dancing shoes on and get moving!!